Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Further proof that horses skittishness is all rooted in time, place, and circumstance and, of course, our silly human reaction:
I’m talking about turkeys. Oh-so-scary turkeys. Yes, those dark, monstrous objects that move like spooky porcupines through the field?
Yup, that’s them.
How many times have I been riding and happen upon those creatures? Every time, my horse makes a show of how really frightening these birds can be. All blowing, spinning, and high stepping until we leave the turkeys way behind.
Those same birds raided my paddock yesterday. It wasn’t just a simple, single-file pass through. It was a party. Several gobblers were strutting around in full plumage. The hens were rooting around and taking dirt baths. A three-ring turkey circus that lasted for 15 minutes.
How did the horses react?
Two of three didn’t even get up from their nap.
I think I’ll call the bluff when we encounter them on a ride next time!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
If it’s spring, it must be Carolina Cup time.
My mom heads to Camden, South Carolina, each spring for a few weeks. She goes there for training with her field dog, Lark, and for a break from the cold.
Every year, she also visits the Springdale Race Course and reconnects with her horsey upbringing.
Springdale is a beautiful 600-acre, European-style facility that hosts the Carolina Cup every April.
It seems special to me (even though I’ve never been) because it’s steeplechase and because there is no betting. Folks show up by the thousands, in their bright hats, bowties, and fancy dresses.
CLICK HERE for more info
Many thanks to my mom, Sally Butcher, for these quietly elegant photos, taken of the training sessions at Springdale.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I wish I could say it was me!
Alas, I only had time to get there with two legged friend and dog.
But Linda and her friends from Alna made it to the beach.
With the tide low and the temperatures mild, they picked a great day! There were dozens of beachcombers, but the beach was in good shape and there was plenty of running room.
Linda introduced me to Rowan, her BIG retired Boston Police mount. He was a gentle, graceful fellow. (see below)
On this day, only the Alna group and one other trailer pulled in to ride.
Time's a wastin'. The beach closes to horses April 1.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
This week, Shea and I got out for our first ride off the farm since late last year.
It was in the mid 40s and I put on her bridle and got ready to head out bareback.
First, though, we had to negotiate the driveway, 100 yards of solid ice. I stayed on the ice and encouraged her to stick to the melting snowbanks of the shoulder. She was tentative and super-cautious when it came to crossing the icy spots unaided by the traction of the snow.
It was heaven, though, when we got onto clear, dead-end road.
The big girl tossed her head back and forth in friskiness. She listened intently as the girls called her from the paddock nonstop. Still, she didn’t argue much with our direction. We walked and trotted, taking in the spring-ish air and listening anew to the birds on the breeze.
It was only a 30 minute ride.
But it felt good.
Later I took Peppermint out on a line. She spooks easily and I’m working on desensitizing her to all that’s ‘Out There.’
Fortuitously, I stopped with her on the road to chat with my neighbor. My neighbor likes to talk. Spooky Peppermint had to stand quietly while he yammered away and cars sped by.
(Drivers, it appears, have not learned a single thing in the off season. They still pass fast and close.) Pep did wonderfully but I'm happier on the ground with her, at least for now!
It was nice to see the hoof tracks and road apples when I drove by later in the day. Cold, crummy weather has returned, but it was a first step nonetheless. I’m eager for Day 2, Day 3, Day 4…
Thursday, March 03, 2011
It almost felt like summer.
I hauled my last load of manure to the pile, stored the wheelbarrow, and placed the rake back in the tack room. The horses watched me move around their space.
I picked up my bottle of beer and sat for a spell on the stoop. Peppermint lipped my collar, investigated the Gearys, stayed close. The other two milled, coming close to smell and breathe on me.
The stars were out and the moment felt like so many summer evenings, when a moment’s pause after the long day lets you soak in the pleasures of horse ownership: the smells, sounds, actions, and energies of these compelling animals.
Almost like summer except:
Peppermint was lipping coveralls, not shorts
You could see our breaths.
My boots kicked up bits of ice.
Those stars were out before dinnertime.
Three feet of snow blanketed our surroundings.
That beer stayed nicely chilled for an hour.
Still, it’s just around the corner, y’all!